About the Author

Amber C Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, has 4 sons, a guitar-playing husband, theRunaMuck, and rare friends. She loves the funky, the narrative, and the dirty South. She finds community among the broken and wants to know your story. Amber is curator with her husband Seth Haines of Mother...

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  1. Amber,
    Speaking as one whose false identity has unraveled…I too, have assumed the world’s burdens and have carried them long distances. But it has taken its toll on my family. You can’t carry all that inside without it leaking out somewhere else. I need this reminder to release it…to let it go…to let God be God. Thank you.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • It’s so crazy, Bev, how easy it is to lie to myself, too, about how I’m just doing my job to carry it all. I’m learning that my real job is to so abide in Christ that hardly a thing touches my back at all. It’s not that we become callous, like water off a duck’s back; it’s more that we become sensitive to the yoke with Christ. In Him, we rest from all the heavy. Everything I’m writing here sounds so cliche, but I’m living it. This is skin and bones to me right now, you know?

  2. “The savior complex.” That’s what my priest calls it when we want to carry everyone’s burdens and save the world single handedly. It’s a dangerous pitfall into anxiety, and your word “release” is the perfect antidote. It’s good to put it all on the shoulders of the actual Savior. Thank you for your post today.
    Jenni @ http://genuflected.com/free

    • Jenni, I have always had the savior complex, and that kills me to write. Grrrr. And you are so right. Anxiety is such a red flag for claiming control that we don’t actually have.

      Thanks for encouraging.

  3. Beauty lies in your falling apart and release. Thank you for sharing all these and for how God is making you whole – you beautiful creation of His!!

  4. I will turn 60 years old this year, an only child of two parents from strong Appalachian farming communities. One side has deep religious roots, the other also multitudes of layers of personality and heritage. I am the “keeper of the flame”.
    It was heartening and refreshing to read of someone so much younger than I who also carried this burden and was seeking for a way to disburse the guilt and heaviness she felt was her walk, in order to free herself up for her family, God and her self.
    As a word, each story I relay or family possession I disburse to others lifts this load. We all have things we don’t want others to know about us from our past. Yet at times that very knowledge and experience draws people to confide in us. It is not up to us to judge, many times not to share advice, mostly only to listen . . . and then pray.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Edie, you have no idea how “close to home” your own words hit me. Learning to listen and pass things on to Christ has done something really wonderful for me. I’m free to really do what I’ve been called to do.

  5. “I thought that growing up means holding it all together, but I’m seeing now that it’s really only a great ability to let go. I hold my hands open, and things flow through: the giving, the taking away. This is peace.”. This is so beautifully expressed. Trusting in God, rather than in our own strength frees us to welcome Him into our sorrows and to carry our burdens and those of others.

  6. What a beautiful post; this is pure poetry. And the beauty is in the release…”I opened my hands, and I was no longer daughter of woods. I became daughter of a king, but I am no longer a child.” Childlike with wisdom and peace. Just so beautifully said.

  7. I think that some of us are born with the great gift of empathy. It can be burdensome at times. Wanting to take everything on and fix it, and feel it and carry that burden for someone else. But, it is also a gift to learn to “release” as you said. It’s all about the balance.

  8. Amber,
    Thank you for sharing this poignant story. “Sometimes I act like the world will fall apart without me, so I carry sorrow like a knot that holds the whole world together.” I also struggle with the tendency to act like Atlas. I forget that I am a daughter of the Living God and He has it all under control. There is also the element that when you become the arms everyone cries in, they expect you to try to fix it for them. They don t mean to lay the burden on, but they become so used to us taking the burden that it becomes hard for them to let us let go. In all that rambling, I mean to say that I am on the journey too. I am adding you to my payer list. I will pray for both of us (and all those in the same boat) that we can rest secure in the knowledge that Jesus is in the boat as well. He says, “Peace, be still” even the wind and waves obey Him. Survival does not depend on our ability to bail water out of a sinking boat! Peace,
    Amy

  9. Maybe it’s true that I want to look at your life closer and closer so I can help you through, but also so I won’t have to look at my own. We are woven in together, but let’s look mostly at you. I’ll tie you back in. If we look long at me, you’ll see how frayed up I am, unraveled from the rest, nest of sorrow.

    This really struck a cord with me, as I am a fixer, encourager, and burden carrier. I have always found it easier to hear others stories, than sharing my own, maybe it’s insecurity or thinking will others truly care about what’s going on in my life? Thank you for your writing!! It has given me much to think about in my relationships with others. I pray that God will sink this deep into my heart and that He will free me to share, as well as care.

  10. As a teen I was given the “warrior name: Burden barer boy chaser”. I gave up the boy chasing thing unless my son counts, but listening to people’s problems and having too much of my own messy life has taken it toll at times. One of My teens took to coming to me in the wee hours and telling all. Now she is away at college and has curbed the calls before 9pm. What I learned was once my heart stopped racing, listen, reap and pray out loud. It took 50 years to learn this method – prayer, releasing the concern to the Father was what He told us to do on the Mount, in the Garden and on the Cross. I’m glad you learned 15 years before me. Shalom little sister.

  11. Yes, Amber. Me too, to all of it. Thanks. I really needed to absorb this today. I glanced at your bio at the end of the post and I have four sons and a guitar playing husband too…just thought that was cool. 🙂 Thanks for being so real for us with your words.

  12. Amber, thank you for sharing this. In many ways your story sounds very similar to my story. Over the last several years, God has sometimes gently and sometimes not as gently asked me to let got of my identity as burden bearer, fixer of problems, saver of whatever. He has consistently reminded me that those are His jobs and His identity. My identity is that I am His daughter.

    As I have worked hard to let go of that old identity, I have realized a lot of things, like that I was enabling others’ sin and immaturity by constantly bearing the consequences “fixing” their problems. Maybe God was trying to do things in their lives but I was trying to take His role. I have learned that there is a difference between showing Grace and forgiveness , and enabling sin and immaturity. I have examaned the deep roots of this false identity in my childhood and in my family that has passed down this unhealthy identity from one generation of daughters to the next.
    As my husband and I are about to start a family of our own, I am determined to pass on the identity of Child of God to my children, and it’s scary, and it’s refreshing.

  13. This is exquisite; so much of it my own heart on a page. Thanks for putting words to it when I haven’t looked at myself long enough to articulate this particular fraying…

  14. Thanks for this post….something so many of us struggle with in our life…thanks for your vulnerability and honesty!

  15. Favorite part:
    “Everyone with a false identity is bound to unravel. Sometimes I act like the world will fall apart without me, so I carry sorrow like a knot that holds the whole world together.”

    Beautiful post, Amber.

  16. “I am 35 years old, and some things have had to fall apart for me to grow up” – yes…yes..yes… Being allowed to fall apart so that He who is greater can put us back together and help us grow up…thank you for this. I can’t even begin to recount the amount of my times that I have felt like I needed to be someone else’s savior, decision maker, tissue holder…and forgot that it was okay for me to fall apart too. Thank you for reminding us that we don’t hold the world together – He does.

  17. Poetic and refreshingly said.. been learning this lesson for too many years and its finally finding its place of rest in my soul as a middle-ager.

  18. I, too, am the big sister, daughter of the Alabama pines. And I have eaten the sin and sorrow of others, thinking that in saving them I could save myself.

    It wasn’t until my mid 30s that I discovered my calling as a counselor, a therapist. I learned that only by owning my inability to save anyone, was I free to enter their world and help them carry their pain. And in doing so, I became free to release their pain as we parted ways.

    Those tools of our youth, the ones we turned upon ourselves as weapons, God wields through us for good.

    • Marissa, your comment here really encouraged me. I got choked up. I am a counselor (not by profession) but my carrying the weight of others’ stories has actually hindered me from really being available to people.

  19. Thanks Amber. This is vulnerability at it’s finest. You are one, compassionate person.
    So glad God’s ‘shoulders’ are huge.
    Bless you!

  20. I have only just begun to realize that maybe I am giving myself far more power and credit than I deserve. If my husband seems to regress or be at a standstill in his walk with Christ, it is not because of something I did or said. It is not because I didn’t pray hard enough for him or cheer him on enough times in a day. I hold my breath as if his relationship with God depends on me. If my children make a mistake or a bad choice, it is not my fault because I let my guard down and failed to see that particular thing coming. YES I have labored under the false assumption that if I were not around, my husband and my family would fall apart without the presence of my guidance and knowledge. It is only when i realized that God can do his will, with or without me, that the burden of holding it all together slowly subsided. Yes, I can pray and be an example of grace to my family, but it is God who works in their hearts.

  21. “Growing up is really only a great ability to let go.” What a profound statement! Growing up in the spiritual realm manifests itself in mature fruit of the Spirit and wisdom. And all of that boils down to our trust-level in God. Let it go–let God, says the motto. We can be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled when we trust in God to guide and provide, and live his way. Thank you for your post, Amber, that inspires us to become Releasers!

    • How true, and well spoken. This is what I am learning, right now, in life. The diffence between belief and unbelief has such enormous influence over my soul.

  22. Amber,

    Such exquisite writing here. We are called to bear each other’s burdens, but in prayer to God. If we can do something to alleviate pain or suffering then we should do it. I will listen to people’s problems and pray hard for them and leave it up to God.

    The analogy I find from your story is of an eagle soaring high above the clouds. He is released to fly around no heavy burdens. God calls us to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him then we will have rest for our souls. We need to give it up (release) all burdens to God!

    Blessings 🙂